Review - the blue umbrella: Lights, camera - put into full action

wogma rating: Buy the DVD already (?)
quick review:

A simple adorable script narrated with creative use of the camera, color and light. Pankaj Kapoor gives yet another excellent performance.

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Wogma Review

Very rarely in Hindi cinema can you say - no significant story, not everybody has acted well, but still go watch it. Every frame (well almost!) is enchanting. And the going is slow, so you have enough time to take in every detail.

Yes, the movie is a fairy tale and is narrated as such. Melodrama is used where a parent would use exaggerated voice modulation to narrate the story. But, I still wouldn't call it a children's movie. It is very unlikely that the hues, the pace, or the subtle sense of humor are going to retain a child's attention. On the other hand, it is a very short movie and what a perfect way this would be to introduce the art that cinema is to children! And yes parents, there is a moral at the end of the story.

The camerawork, both indoors and outdoors, is simply breathtaking. Himachal Pradesh's tourism department could very well use scenes from here to advertise its scenic beauty. Though the interiors are largely shot in the dark, the lighting and colors are used to beautify the scenes to perfection. A few scenes are shot from the point of view of a character or an object, allowing you to see what they/it are seeing - here the camera in combination with the background score has been used to enhance the emotion sought to be created (read more in the "what worked" section). There were a few frames that were outright ugly, almost felt like they were shot by a different camera crew altogether. But, after a while, I noticed that such shots were used specifically for the darker characters. Maybe it wasn't intentional, but if the viewer feels obligated to rationalize the things they don't like, the director has done his job well, right?

The simple story is complemented by simple music which is soft on the ears. The lyrics very appropriately followed a child's train of thoughts. Reminded me a lot of Gulzar's own 'lakdi ki kaathi' from Masoom - a song that I grew up listening to. The lyrics especially stood out when the umbrella, an inanimate object, was being spoken of as a lover.

What stuck out as a sore thumb was the acting by all the side characters. In fact, the little girl's performance was also not up to mark. It was lifeless and flat. Pankaj Kapoor however, made up for all of it with brilliant body language. And this movie is more about the artistic representation of the subject, more than any individual performance. Though, the movie is about the characters, it is not a character driven script. Here I go rationalizing again!

This movie is as much a trip to fantasy land as it is an experiment with the medium through creative use of camera, lighting, music and color. A work of art that is very rarely made available to the common movie-going population. So, catch it while it is still in the theaters, because a DVD might not do full justice to the overall effort.

- meeta, a part of the audience

the blue umbrella - Movie Details

the blue umbrella - Trailer

Comments (2)

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meetu:

You are right, Anurag, it is indeed Himachal Pradesh. Slip of the mind - aplogies...and thanks for pointing it out.

Well, I wouldn't compare 'Masoom' with 'the blue umbrella' because in the latter the subject matter could very well be enjoyed by kids too.

meetu:

I believe its been shot in Himachal Pradesh

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